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I have met people that use this pattern as a way to end a conversation as 'winners' when they have an argument with another person in front of others: they just yell their opinion at the one they are arguing with and/or interrupt the other person when it's his/her turn to speak. Dealing with such people is very difficult for me as I don't like to yell or be yelled at.

I have been advised to just be louder than them, but I don't see the point in shouting things at one another, especially when there's audience.

Example: I was arguing with a colleague who insisted I do the work the way s/he thought to be the right way (the rest of our team was present, but none of them spoke a word). I tried to phrase my opinion, but the colleague kept yelling. I waited until s/he finished and then tried again, but the moment I spoke a word the yelling started again. The same happened every time I started to speak. I'm afraid that me tolerating the yelling made me lose face. I want to be respected by my colleagues as much as I respect them and prevent such situation from taking place in the future.

So my question is: given that I've been told to stand my ground in an argument (the boss might be listening or you don't want your colleagues to get the wrong impression) with a person that uses intimidation such as yelling in order to appear as being right: is there any way to try to get my point across without yelling back?

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    OP, in your example who were you arguing with and what were you arguing about? – Jesse Feb 25 '18 at 17:43
  • Is the person yelling in a position of authority over the OP? If not, is this something that could be walked away from and then immediately brought to the boss's attention? Is this behavior considered normal in the OP's country/culture? – NotMe Feb 28 '18 at 2:37
  • 1. Yes and no. They are the team leader but we re vith seniors. 3. People are more 'expressive' down here, but such behavior in the working environment is not expected. – clueless Feb 28 '18 at 12:35
  • @clueless Where is "down here"? Your culture may be a big factor in this... There are probably many cultures that yelling would look very bad but others, it looks strong... which is yours? – Catija Mar 2 '18 at 2:06
  • @Catija Added tag – clueless Mar 2 '18 at 6:17
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Here are some approaches I've sometimes seen be effective:

  1. My son is a clown and can make anyone laugh about anything. (I would not be able to pull this off.) In this situation I can imagine that each time A (Aggressive Person) interrupts right after seeming to be done talking, my son would open his mouth and then clack it shut again, making any onlookers laugh at A.

  2. I know a secretary at a busy community center who asserts herself mercilessly with any and everyone. (She is nice when you treat her right.) As soon as anyone raises their voice to her, she looks a little bit annoyed and says, "You're raising your voice." As soon as anyone interrupts, she says, "You're interrupting." Productive conversation ceases until the offending party apologizes.

  3. Really wait: Each time A appears to be done talking, wait longer than would normally be needed, so you can be sure he's done. Before responding to what he was saying, calmly ask, "Are you done?" or "Anything you want to add?" If he says he's done, but then he interrupts you again, you can allow yourself to be a bit indignant: "Hold on, you said you were done, now it's my turn." Or "Oh, my mistake, I understood that you were done. Please, proceed."

  4. Walk away: Don't respond to A's ideas or statements. Respond only to the yelling, with something like this, if you can fit it into a gap in the noise:

    I'm not accustomed to being yelled at. Let me know when you can talk to me without yelling (or: when you've calmed down and are ready to listen as well as talk).

    Walking away in silence is usually more effective than yelling back.

  5. My son has Tourette Syndrome and is quite excitable. I help him lower his voice and speak more calmly by using a visual cue. I raise my eyebrows a bit, to get his attention and show that I'm trying to help him, and I put out one or two hands, palm flat and facing down, and push the air down toward the floor two or three times. An optional verbal cue to go with this is "Easy does it," or "Easy, easy."

  • This is my prefered answer because it seems like I would try any of these depending the situation. – clueless Mar 2 '18 at 7:15
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When the other side is constantly interrupting, I often find it helpful to ask them if they have finished expressing their opinion. After they say "yes", interrupting becomes much more unreasonable and you can ask again if they still do - at some point it just becomes comedic and embarrassing. And if they say "no", they should continue speaking until they have nothing more to say.

On a more general note, you can "win" arguments, but winning only means that your audience takes your side. So your goal is to look better than your opponent in the eyes of your colleagues - and yelling usually doesn't look good, so you have an advantage from the start.

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You don't "HAVE TO" stand your ground, and it is certainly not a "given". You can always walk away from the argument. In fact, when the other person starts yelling, that is what you should do. Anything you say to try to stop them from yelling ("Please don't yell at me.", etc.) will likely only make them yell louder.

You cannot "win" an argument when the other person has started yelling, because they are no longer interested in reasoning. Besides, winning an argument is not exactly something to feel proud of anyway. I am willing to bet none of the arguments in your entire life are so important that letting it go would have adverse consequences that you cannot recover from.

If settling the issue is really that important, walk away from the argument and continue the discussion later when the other person has calmed down.

Remember life is short, don't waste it fighting unnecessary battles, or as I like to put it:

Never let go of an opportunity to let it go.

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    I'd like to add that walking away with a verbal statement is very effective though. Something like 'I'm not going to stand here just so you can yell at me, we'll talk later' works fine for toddlers and adults behaving like one. – Tinkeringbell Feb 25 '18 at 17:45
  • If the OP were asking specifically about a workplace incident, your answer is insufficient, I think, given that perception by managers and colleagues around the office matter a great deal and your advice to the OP - to walk away and to stop trying to debate or reason with their colleague - could portray them as incompetent. (But, as the question stands, it's too broad.) – D.Hutchinson Feb 25 '18 at 19:26
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    “When you can discuss based on business needs, I’d be happy to help.” Deliver calmly. Then walk away. – Jon Custer Feb 25 '18 at 19:28
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    @D.Hutchinson I have answered only the question that was asked, not "what if" the question was something else. Anyway, even in that case, I have suggested to continue the discussion when the yeller has calmed down. If the boss thinks that makes the OP incompetent, then it is not worth working there anyway. – Masked Man Feb 26 '18 at 0:49
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I'll answer this one as I'm a person who always used to yell in arguments.

The way I saw it, the other party's argument was either irrelevant or not fitting for the situation. I often (thought I) figured out what they were trying to say from a few words, and then started talking over their voices, ignoring what they said.

This worked until I met a person who was at least 10 times as loud as me, and basically trolled me about. After failing to get my point across multiple times, I decided to change my arguing strategy.

Understanding how the other person thinks is important. If they think that they already know what you're saying, and that nothing you say is relevant, they may stop listening.

Keep the following things in mind while arguing:

  1. Don't try to impose your opinion on them. Their way of thinking is inherently different, and the best you can do is to make them respect your opinion, not abide by it.

  2. Asking the other party to respect your opinion requires that you respect theirs. This means that you must carefully listen to them carefully and understand exactly where you two differ. Acting indifferent to them when they state (or yell) their opinion will make them indifferent to your opinion. The key to having a healthy argument is that you both accept that the other's ideas are equally important, and it's just that you choose to follow one of them, while the other follows another one. You can not get them to do what you want. That's their own choice.

  3. Ask them to lower their voices, because what you're having isn't an argument, it's a discussion. It only becomes an argument if you both stop respecting the other party and it's views. Request them to hear you out, because your opinion matters too.

  4. If all else fails, make a statement like @Tinkeringbell said:

I'd like to add that walking away with a verbal statement is very effective though. Something like 'I'm not going to stand here just so you can yell at me, we'll talk later' works fine for toddlers and adults behaving like one.

Walking away doesn't mean you're weak, and doesn't hurt your reputation either.

Don't think of it as standing your ground. It's more like figuring out what you both think, and choosing the best alternative, which may be your way, or the other party's way.

At the end of the day, this doesn't necessarily side the audience with you, but lets them choose what works best for them too.

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